The term, ADHD, is unhelpful and inaccurate. It stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I don’t believe my son has a disorder, and his attention may or may not be a deficit. That is completely dependent on the situation. This morning we had a tough time with math which included teary eyes (his) and frustration (both his and mine). But right now he is upstairs working on his iPad Mini, creating an animation project that he’s been glued to for almost an hour. Who’s to say he has an attention deficit? There’s a funny bit Steven Wright does talking about his nephew with ADD. It’s very short, well under a minute and worth watching.
Wright is right! People with ADD/ADHD have an amazing ability to focus when they are doing something they enjoy. The term for this is hyperfocus. This quality can be beneficial when someone is doing something creative. In some ways it can be detrimental to an individual’s relationships and health. People might spend too much time doing one thing they enjoy while neglecting their spouses, their children, and their work.
What I’ve started doing with my son, so he can learn to regulate his activities during free time, is to set a timer. If there are no meals, jobs, or errands in the immediate timeline, I have him set the timer for an hour. After that he needs to take a 10-15 minute break and do something completely different. To be honest, when I first began having him do this there was a bit of opposition, but now my son is used to it. Though it’s still not a perfect system, it really has gotten better with practice. Taking regular breaks is good for everyone. I like to think (or at least hope), if it’s managed well, hyperfocus can really be a gift and allow those with ADD to create amazing things without harming their health or their relationships.